ISLAMABAD: Pakistani and Chinese customs administrations have principally agreed to implement ‘Green Corridor’ - a fast track customs clearance system exclusively for speedy clearances of the perishable agricultural products, under the proposed Green Corridor at Sust-Khunjerab border.

In this regard, the Chinese customs delegation visited Pakistan and had meetings with Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) officials from December 10-11 with policy consensus on a major incentive to ensure speedy clearance of perishable items from Pakistan and China.

According to details, the Green Corridor will be a fast track customs clearance system exclusively for agricultural products at Silk Route Dry Port (SRDP) at Sust, Pakistan and Khunjerab Dry Port at Tashkurgan on the Chinese side.

The salient features of the Green Corridor which distinguish this expeditious customs clearance system include; firstly, the fresh fruit and other agricultural produce imports and exports will be cleared on priority on fulfilling of due customs and import policy requirements. Secondly, there will be dedicated customs staff and separate shed/area for the handling, examination, storage and clearance of such cargo. Thirdly, there will be minimum intrusive examination, with more reliance on risk-based selective examination and automated processing.

When contacted, sources said that both the sides have agreed to ensure speedy clearance of perishable items particularly fruit and vegetables. Priority would be given for immediate clearance of perishable items under the ‘Green Corridor’ facility. However, Pakistan would apply its sanitary and import standard requirements for speedy clearance of items under the ‘Green Corridor’.

It is expected that the agreement would be signed between the two sides by end of current fiscal or start of next fiscal year.

Sources said that both the sides have also agreed to facilitate incoming and outgoing international passengers from flights of Pakistan and China under the system which is capable of carrying out passenger profiling through Advance Passenger Information (API).

General Customs Administration of China and Pakistan Customs under the FBR are actively involved in cooperation, information exchange, and enforcement coordination. In pursuance of the shared objectives, delegates from both the customs administrations held several meetings (alternately) in China and Pakistan on a wide range of issues during the recent years. Negotiations were also held about the Green Corridor.

Other areas of priority for both China and Pakistan, which were discussed, are removal of obstacles in exchange of information, on real time basis, between both countries about values of goods originating from them; exchange of information/intelligence to effectively control illicit flows of currency; development of Authorized Economic Operators Program between both countries and border management cooperation.

In order to have detailed discussions in furtherance of the above-stated initiatives, the Chinese customs delegation visited Pakistan and had meetings with Federal Board of Revenue, Islamabad. The meetings were held from 10th December to 11th December, 2019. The Chinese customs delegation comprised senior officers including DANG Yingjie, Deputy Director General of National Office of Port Administration, GACC; LIU Jian, Deputy Director General Department of International Cooperation, GACC; ZHU Zhen, Deputy Director, National Office of Port Administration, GACC; ZHOU Rongxin, Deputy Director, Department of International Cooperation, GACC and SU Jinding Director Port Administration Office of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

In addition to the above-referred participants, the representatives of the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of National Food and Security, attended the meetings and highlighted the need for standardization of the regulatory requirements for smooth flow of cross-border trade between China and Pakistan.

While welcoming the distinguished guests, Chairman FBR Shabbar Zaidi highlighted the brotherly relationship between Peoples Republic of China and Pakistan and termed those to be very cordial and an asset for Pakistan. He stated that this bond could be further reinforced through greater collaboration and exchange of information/data keeping in view best interest of both the friendly countries. He also emphasized upon seamless and the unhindered exchange of values declared in both countries at the time of export so that the menaces of under-invoicing and money laundering could be effectively curbed. He stated that the said matter has also come under active discussion between His Excellency, the Ambassador of China in Islamabad, Yao Jing and himself.

Muhammad Javed Ghani, the Member (Customs Policy, FBR) observed that the proposed cooperation would go a long way in fostering a long-term relationship between both customs administrations and can enable them to successfully cope with the challenges that they are facing.

In the two days’ meeting, consensus was made that all-out efforts would be made for expedited clearances of the agricultural products, under the proposed Green Corridor, at Sust-Khunjerab border. Secondly, border-management cooperation would be enhanced and, for this purpose, focal persons were nominated to have liaison and regular meetings.

Pakistan Customs would share its experiences of roll out of the Authorized Economic Operation Program with its Chinese counterparts and both administrations would closely work towards exchange of information about AEOs for smooth flow of trade between both countries.

Cooperation between the local field officers would be enhanced and a working mechanism was decided between Urumqi Customs and the Collector, Model Collectorate of Customs, Islamabad, for exchange of information about passengers traveling by air between Pakistan and China.

Pakistan Customs candidly shared its concern with the Chinese delegation about issues in the data received from China under Electronic Data Exchange Mechanism. The Chinese side subscribed to these views and assured its full-fledged cooperation to resolve this matter so that the menace of under-invoicing/ over-invoicing and trade based money laundering could be effectively curbed.